“ –Whatever you say, say nothing” Seamus Heaney
Men’s mental health is a growing issue in today’s society. Being from Northern Ireland, I have seen this problem manifest prominently there. Northern Ireland has one of the highest suicide rates in the UK, with most of these being men between the ages of 35 and 44. Joe Wallen illustrates the continuous effect of conflict prominently by stating, “The country struggles to escape the trauma of the troubles”.
The starting point for this project was the legacy of conflict in Northern Ireland and the impact that can still be felt today. This is particularly notable within the male population and is discussed by Karen Nickel in her thesis. She says that women were concerned about their “menfolk” who were, “hiding their emotions behind an angry silence”.
As a textile designer I wanted to communicate, albeit abstractly, some of the emotion and energy that surrounds things that have gone unsaid. I have explored this idea through a collection of bold knitted fabrics for menswear fashion. Fashion can be used as a mirror for society; a reflection of what has been happening in Northern Ireland and a commentary on it. My primary visual research focused on industrial spaces within predominantly Protestant and Catholic cities across Northern Ireland. I took close up photographs of worn out textures and surfaces that visually embody the narrative of my project.
Through a process led exploration of materials, I developed an experimental yet methodical design approach to the development of colour, pattern and structure. I then created a collection that plays on the jarring and discordant which explores unknown narratives prominently. I have showcased the fabrics as contemporary, high end Menswear.